Bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) are a great first pet, and can be tamed very easily. They were originally from Australia until they were captively bred. Whether you are ten or sixty, they will give you much pleasure as long as you care for them properly.
Bearded dragons are small when hatchlings, but donít be fooled. They will easily reach 18 inches within a year. Before you get a bearded dragon, remember that, if cared for properly, they will live up to 12 years old. Dragons are born in certain morphs, but during the day depending on stress, and time of day, their colors will change slightly. Bearded dragonís colors seem to show up best when they are happily basking or soaking in their water bowl. When they are stressed, the colors may appear duller.
Bearded dragons can be held and adored for hours, as long as you respect them. Just like anyone, they do not like being grabbed unwillingly. They can and will bite you if you do that. Babies can be a little jumpy, so make sure they donít run off.
If you do something to scare them, they will puff up as big as possible, and their ďbeardĒ will turn black.
Bearded dragons eat both greens and insects. Hatchlings, 0-4 months, will not take greens, so you should feed them crickets, silk worms, or cockroaches. Mealworms have a hard external shell and are not recommended for hatchlings or adults. Hatchlings act like starving children, always wanting more food. A baby may eat too much and throw up. They will learn from that and not do it again.
Hatchlings should be fed once in the morning and once in the evening. Feed them as much as they will take in 15-20 minutes. Once they are done, remove the spare crickets for the next feeding.
Make sure that your insects are properly sized, or else bearded dragons will get impacted or other health problems may occur. The insects should be no longer that your beaded dragons head is wide. Hatchlings from 2 to 4 months should be provided veggies every day, even if they donít take them.
After four months, they can be fed once a day, and when adults, about 3 times a week. When you feed greens to your bearded dragon, make sure you get the right type. Some popular types include Swiss chard, dandelion greens, and kale. These vegetables should make up around 30% of an adultís diet. If you grow or use wild greens, make sure they have not been treated with pesticides or other chemicals.
The other 70% of their diet includes insects. Adults can be fed super worms, large crickets, and other insects. Wax worms are mostly fat, and should only be provided only as a treat. Feed adults as much as they will eat in 20 minutes and remove the spare crickets.
Fruit like strawberries can be fed to adults as a treat and most adore them. Do not feed any dragon tomatoes or spinach because they are very toxic to them. Housing Requirements
Bearded dragons are large lizards, and need lots of room. Hatchlings and juveniles can be housed in a 20-gallon tank until they are over a foot long. The bare minimum for an adult is 40 gallons. The bigger the tank, the happier your lizard will be.
Provide some drift wood branches and rocks in the tank for them to climb on. They may also use them for basking.
For hatchlings, paper towel, newspaper, or butcherís paper works the best because they are cheap and make clean up easy. They are not all that attractive though. Adults can live in the substrates above, but they can also live on sand. Soil and bed-a-beast are designed to hold humidity, so they are not acceptable. Another substrate that looks great and does not cause impaction is Astroturf or reptile carpet. If you have an under tank heater with a paper towel substrate, make sure you have enough layers to prevent burning.
You only need to provide one hide box per dragon because they are diurnal and will be out and about during the day. The hide should be big enough for it to fit comfortably in.
Bearded Dragons like it hot. Provide a basking spot on one end of the tank that stays at 95-105F. Under tank heaters (UTH) are fine, but lamps work better because bearded dragons absorb heat from above. The rest of the cage can stay at about 80F. Thermometers should be placed at the warm and cool end of the tank.
For bearded dragons, UV bulbs are necessary. They will be able to get their Vitamin D3 through them.
Keep a water bowl in the tank big enough to soak in that remains shallow. Place this on the cooler end of the tank or else it will evaporate faster, and put too much moisture into the air.
Bearded dragons are used to hot desert-like conditions and do not need the tank misted. You can spray them a couple times when getting ready to shed so it slips off their body easier.
Be sure to replace the water when needed, and clean up any feces. Change paper substrates when needed and sand every six months.
Breeding is a fairly simple process with satisfying results. After your male and female mate, separate the female so she does not become stressed. Be sure to provide the female with plenty of calcium. It will go to the eggshells so you have a successful clutch.
Females will start the laying process about 6 weeks after the mating. Before the eggs come, prepare a covered laying box for the female. This should be nice and roomy filled with moist non-fertilized soil. The soil should be 4-5 inches deep so all the eggs fit. Once the lay box is in her tank, she will go in and start to dig around.
A clutch of eggs contains 15-40 eggs. You can leave the eggs in the box and put the box in an incubator, or somewhere that stays from 82-85F. The eggs will hatch from 60-75 days. Hatchling Care
Multiple hatchlings can live in a 20 gallon tank. Feed them pin head crickets, and make sure that they are all eating. If one is not getting fed properly, separate it from the rest until it is the same size and is healthy before having him join the rest.
Baby dragons should be provided the same lighting and temperature as adults. Once they begin to get bigger, they should start getting their own cages. Conclusion
Bearded dragons are wonderful first pets as long as you care for them properly and you respect them. For all their requirements, they make up for it in beauty and friendliness.
I have been waiting over a year but it was well worth it. Got 8 Armidillo Lizards. All fingers an toes, tails and teeth. Not one blemish between them. All are eating, driniking and BEST OF ALL MATING!!!! Had fecal floats done and no parasites. YAH!!! Now the wait for babies. They all have great appitites and show no fear of people. When the giant Legless Lizards come in this is the only place I am going to buy from. The colony I already have are matng for the first time and I am stoked. This place has never sold me a bad critter yet.
Sharon D. Webb - April 16, 2013
Copyright © 2003 - 2020, ReptilesNCritters.com - All Rights Reserved